Alexander Hamilton vs. the Balanced Budget Amendment

In an interesting essay on Public Discourse, political scientist Carson Holloway makes the case that Hamiltonian principles argue strongly against adoption of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

Just back from a week of canoeing in the wilderness of Canada, I’m racing to catch up on things, so I’ll just very briefly state some additional objections to a balanced-budget amendment: (1) I don’t see how a balanced-budget amendment could be meaningfully enforced without a dramatic and (from the perspective of principles of representative government) disastrous shift of power to the federal judiciary. (2) The whole effort seems like a wasteful diversion from the more urgent work of entitlement reform. I don’t want it to be easy for spendthrift legislators to posture themselves as fiscal hawks merely by supporting a balanced-budget amendment.

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